Friday, January 13, 2012
In researching a question relating to qualifications to sit for the Illinois Bar examination, I came across a dissent on the requirement that an applicant be a graduate of an ABA-approved law school.
Perhaps this is ancient news, but I found it worth noting:
JUSTICE HEIPLE, dissenting:
By the amendment to Rule 711 and by Rule 703, which was previously adopted, this court recognizes only law schools which have been approved by the American Bar Association. I both dissent and object to these rules because they represent an improper delegation of a governmental and judicial function to a trade association of lawyers.
The American Bar Association is a voluntary association of dues paying lawyers (currently $225 per annum) that exists for the benefit of its members. No lawyer is required to belong. Most do not. It clothes its parochial existence with an overlay of public activities and pronouncements designed to convince the general public that it is interested in the general welfare. That its primary focus is the benefit of its members, however, is beyond question. That the American Bar Association is a trade association warrants neither commendation nor condemnation. As a trade association engaging in improving the status of lawyers and lobbying Congress and the State legislatures, it is on a par with any other trade association. It is decidedly not, however, an arm of the State of Illinois nor of this court.
It is improper for this court to assign and delegate to that organization the ultimate decisionmaking function of deciding for the State of Illinois which law schools warrant official recognition. It would be proper, of course, for this court and its Board of Law Examiners (now, Board of Admissions to the Bar) to consider and weigh the evaluations of the American Bar Association in considering which law schools are to be approved. The work of the American Bar Association in evaluating law schools could be considered as relevant evidence in that regard. No objection could be raised to that procedure.
This court, however, has no right to delegate its decisionmaking function to the American Bar Association, the Teamsters Union, the Republic of Uganda or any other such body or group. If the rule asserts a valid principle of law, then this court could as well assign all of its decisionmaking functions to others who might be considered experts in their field.
For the reasons given, I respectfully dissent.
The New York Times had this post about the justice.(Mike Frisch)